Sometimes a picture tells the whole story. Sometimes a bit of explanation is needed.
As we in the USA prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we will be reminded of how native Americans showed Pilgrims the agricultural bounty of the land – turkey, squash, beans, and corn (known by many as maize). In all the countries where World Vision is implementing its THRIVE program, smallholder farmers grow this crop we all know and love - corn. For many smallholder farmers around the world, corn is the staple food. It is ground to make a porridge, cakes, or sometimes tortillas. Corn is life.
These cobs came from a THRIVE program. These cobs come from two fields very close to each other. These cobs were both grown in a year with lower than average rainfall. These cobs tell the story of two ways of farming. These cobs tell the story of why World Vision’s THRIVE program is needed.
One cob tells the story of a farmer who is farming the way his or her ancestors did – on a small plot of land, using seeds his or her father or grandfather had acquired, preparing the land with a hoe, and scattering the seed by hand. This farmer burns the stubble and stalks after harvest, or feeds them to the animals. This farmer experiences low yields when the rains are poor, come late, or fail completely. This farmer sells a number of sacks after harvest for necessities and to repay the money lender. This farmer’s children are not in school when the harvest is bad. This farmer’s children are too often hungry. This farmer has not yet moved ahead.
The other cob tells the story of a farmer who is learning new ways to farm. This farmer is using good quality seed. The seeds are planted in regular and straight lines with proper spacing between the plants. This farmer has not yet even used fertilizer yet, but has learned to keep the soil covered after planting with stubble or leaves or grasses. This farmer’s wife has joined a savings group and got a loan to start a small garden growing onions. He is so impressed he is going to join, too, and is hoping to get a VisionFund loan for fertilizer and a milk cow. This farmer did not experience the hunger season, and all the children are in school.
At this time of national pause and reflection, I am immensely thankful to God for you, the people who enable us to help smallholder farmers move out of extreme poverty – one cob at a time.